The ministry of Health in Uganda in partnership with World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF issued guidelines on how best to use masks.
The use of face masks is one of the preventive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Below are some of the guidelines on the proper usage of a mask according to Ministry of Health.
1. What are the types of masks on the Ugandan market?
There are two types of masks on the Ugandan market namely:
- The medical masks include; N95, KN95 and surgical masks.
- The non-medical masks are made out of fabric (cloth)
- Medical masks should be preserved for health workers in health facilities and are not reusable. Since it is used in a hospital environment, it is highly contaminated by various infectious organisms and its reuse is risky.
2. How do face masks work?
- COVID-19 is spread through sneezing, coughing, talking and breathing.
- When an infected person wears a face mask, the mask blocks the virus from spreading through sneezing, coughing, talking and breathing.
- The mask also prevents droplets from an infected person reaching the nose and mouth of the person wearing
3. What type of masks should be used by the community?
- The community is encouraged to use non-medical masks (masks made out of fabrics e.g. cotton masks
- A 2 layered cotton masks with a ﬁlter material e.g. paper towel or coﬀee ﬁlter or polypropylene (the
material often used for non-plastic shopping bags . placed between the 2 layers may improve the mask
This material acts as a ﬁlter and can be removed before washing. Polypropylene is washable and reusable
4. How protective are cloth and other face masks?
- When a double cloth mask is used with a ﬁlter inside, its protectiveness over 95%. (Report from CDC)
5. Who should wear a mask?
- All adults
- Children aged 6 years and above
People with breathing diﬃculties should seek advice from medical personnel.
Children aged 2- 6 years are very active and cannot take care of their masks and observe hygiene. They should only put on masks under close supervision
Children below 2 years should not wear a . ask as they may have a small lung capacity.
6. When should one wear a mask?
- When going to public places – e.g. work, public transport, markets, supermarkets, shops, classrooms, places of worship, healthcare facilities etc
- When acceptable social distancing is not possible
- When one has a cough, cold or sore throat even when at home
- When at home and visited by a person who is not part of the household
- When in any congested area
- At work places, especially when with colleagues
- Do NOT wear a mask when running, jogging, or doing other physical activities
- It is not necessary to wear a mask when you are alone in the car but have it ready in case of another passenger or when you step out.
7. Do I still need to stay at least 2 meters away from people when wearing a mask?
- Yes, because infection can still go through your eyes and touching other surfaces.
8. Does the use of mask remove the need for other precautions against COVID-19?
The masks only complement and does not remove other precautions:
- Maintain periodic hand hygiene (washing with soap and water or hand sanitizer
- Maintain a social distance of at least 2 meters
- Avoid touching the mouth, eyes and the nose
9. How should one care for the mask?
- Ensure the mask covers the nose, mouth and chin when wearing
- Keep the mask hanged in a clean area or in a clean envelope/container when not wearing it
- Wash and dry re-useable fabric (cotton) mask daily.
- Remove the ﬁlter before washing the mask.
If the ﬁlter is washable (e.g. polypropylene) wash and dry it separately
10. What care precautions should be taken when handling another person’s mask?
- Handle with the knowledge that other people’s masks are potentially infectious
- Observe hand hygiene after handling masks
- Ensure that the mask does not come into contact with one’s mouth, eyes or nose
11. Can wearing a mask and repeated use of sanitizer interfere with one’s immunity?
- Masks and sanitizers reduce the load of the undesirable germs but do not interfere with the immunity
12. Should air conditioning be used in cars, oﬃces, places of worship etc during this time of COVID-19?
- It is not advisable to use air conditioning
- A well-ventilated place with free air circulation is advised.
13. Speciﬁcations for homemade masks
- Preferably100% cotton
- Double layered with a pouch for a ﬁlter which may be polypropylene, tissue or toilet paper
- It should be wide enough to cover the nose, mouth and the chin
- The loops should not be too tight for comfort
14. Where can I buy a mask?
- Ministry of Health has provided speciﬁcations for the fabric masks to the general public
- These speciﬁcations should be observed when one is buying a home-made or factory-made mask.
- Masks on sale should be sealed in a transparent polyethene to avoid contamination and repeated trying on.
- Wash and iron fabric masks before use
15. Disposal of masks
- Fabric masks can be re-used as they are washable. They can be used as long as the fabric is not worn out, develops holes or is so thin that light can be seen through
- When the above happens, dispose by burning or throwing in a pit latrine
- Do NOT pick medical masks that have been disposed
- Do NOT share masks even with close family members.
- Do NOT re-use medical masks
- Do NOT borrow masks
- Do NOT buy medical masks from the streets.
17. Will I be penalized for NOT wearing a mask?
- Wearing masks is mandatory in Uganda as per the Presidential Directive and the Statutory Instrument.
You will be denied access to ANY public facilities without a MASK
Below is a video by NTV Uganda with guidelines on the use of a mask.